BassWestUSA - November/December, 2009, Page 63

While cost-cutting is admirable, Stone said it’s foolish if the price you pay is with your life. Accordingly, one accessory that Stone does not consider optional is multiple bilge pumps. In his view, more equals better and he wants one manual pump as well as a second one that’s automatic, on a float switch. “You can get in bad water or hit a stump,” he said. “I want those two for safety.” That desire to preserve life extends to his fish as well. “I want the strongest livewell pump I can put in” he stated. “Two to fill and recirculate, so if one gets clogged up with sand you still have fresh water. “ Just as there’s no need to sacrifice your own safety due to scrimping on bilge pumps, Stone said it’s equally unforgivable “to give away money for dead fish.” Another relatively new accessory that he’s taken a shine to is an “E-Ladder” a small fold-down ladder that affixes to the jackplate and provides an easy way to get back in the boat. While it doesn’t seem like a huge deal when you’re looking to save a few bucks at purchase time, this device can be worth its weight in gold should you fall out of the boat and have no other way to get back in – un- like stepping on the cavitation plate and trimming yourself up into the boat, there’s no associated risk of ripping your foot open on a razor-sharp propeller. “Many a grown man hits the water at 50 degrees and can’t move,” Stone said. “That’s what makes this such a great option.”

Options and add-ons are where the price of a boat can go from “package level” to astronomical. This brings up another point about the boat-buying process: always make sure you’re compar- ing apples to apples when you go from one brand to another. “Certain brands advertise very well in catalogs and maga- zines,” Stone said. “But when they show you the price be sure to check out the standard option list. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. That always adds up to more money.” Unless you keep your boat in an on-the-water boathouse, you’ll need a trailer. Stone said he is “a big fan of tandems. If you blow out a tire on a single, you only have one bullet left. But with a tan- dem as long as you have two out of four you can still get around.”

safety matters

aCCessOrize apprOpriately

But if you only travel short distances to the water, a single axle trailer can save you over a thousand dollars at the time of pur- chase. If you keep the boat for a while, it can save you even more – down the road you’ll only have to replace two (or three, when you add in the spare) tires instead of four (or five). He did caution that while some manufacturers will put a single axle trailer under any size boat, he firmly believes that when you get in the 20 foot range, “this is one option you don’t skimp on.” The next category where prices can be driven through the roof is on marine electronics. In recent years, with the introduction of large screen units, color displays and GPS, options (and their cor- responding prices) have skyrocketed. What was state of the art less than a decade ago is now the third or fourth option down the ladder. “I’m spoiled,” he stated. “I understand what a color unit shows but the black and white ones drew a darn good picture. You can survive with black and white. A few years ago, all we had was a flasher, but kids today don’t understand clockwise and counter- clockwise.” Stone says the first thing you can cut out if you need to con- serve costs is the previously-standard flasher. “Today’s graphs are fast enough that you can read them while running,” he said. “I haven’t turned (a flasher) on in over a year.” Be honest with yourself: what do you really need? If the search for subtle deepwater structure is not part of your game, you can probably get along quite well with two mid-level graphs. “You can still have two and knock $2,800 off the price,” Stone added. Most high-performance boats run their best with the addition of a jackplate, but unless you really want to maximize speed, need to get on plane in ultra-shallow water, or run the Great Lakes, the vast majority of anglers can get by with a manual plate. That will usually save you at least $600 over a hydraulic version. “What are you after?” he asked. “If the most important thing for you is the performance of your boat, deep, shallow and fast, the option I’d have trouble living without is a hydraulic plate. It can idle shallow and run harder and faster in big water.” But if your local body of water doesn’t require that performance edge, it’s an immediate cost savings of near four figures. One accessory that you might not think of as option is your built-in battery charger. They’ve become standard in just about ev-

November/December 2009